Dealing with fog
Staying safe on foggy days
Autumn often brings foggy weather, especially in the rivers and creeks of the Solent. Even close to home you can be caught out by a fog bank so thick that you can't see a few boat lengths ahead.
The dangers of fog are pretty obvious - collision with another vessel, running around, hooking a pot marker, getting lost. What would happen if the electrics cut out or the engine failed?
The RYA has simple advice on collision regulations and sound signals for fog, digesting the COLREGS for leisure boaters.
What causes fog?
If you don't have the foggiest when to expect fog, why it forms or when its likely to clear, the RYA has some useful descriptions online.
Spring and summer fogs are likely to be sea fog, when warm air passes over cold water. These can last a long time and can occur near cliffs and higher land.
Autumn fogs are likely to be land fogs, forming in rivers and drifting towards open water. They usually clear as the sun gains height.
Our suggestions for foggy days
- Check the forecasts and local weather reports like Bramblemet
- If you're in a marina, then wait for the fog to clear before heading out
- If you are already out, turn on (and use) your radar, AIS, any active radar reflectors, nav lights and VHF Ch 16
- Put a position fix on your chart and actively navigate so you know where you are, even if the GPS stops working
- If possible, head away from shipping routes towards shallower water
- If it is safe to do so, anchor and wait for the fog to lift
- Reduce speed so you can stop and manoeuvre safely
- All crew should wear lifejackets
- Get someone to be a lookout on the bow - looking and listening for other boats and dangers like pot markers
- Get your hooter out and make the appropriate sound signals, and listen out for other boats